Ever since I’ve been able to walk, I’ve been doing sports that are thought of as being boys’ favourites. I was excited about cycling and hockey and they still hold a special place in my heart. Especially cycling.
From my very first push on the pedal, I knew it was my passion. I said to my father, “I want to pedal like my neighbours, without my little wheels!” My neighbours were all boys and they had considerable influence on me. The same was true with hockey, where at the local rink I was their “Manon Rhéaume“.
Saturday, July 5 to Sunday, July 27
21 stages covering 3,664 kilometres starting in Leeds, England
These days, cycling is taking up a lot of space in my life and I love to see my progress year after year, even though I’m an amateur cyclist. To get better, I have to practice with cyclists who are better than me, and often they are male. Often, I’m the only female. Just like when I started out. But believe me, everyone quickly forgets I’m a girl when I get on my bike. Because I’m just as competitive as the boys.
A role model for young girls
Until recently I didn’t know that some little girls have noticed me in the boy’s peloton. In almost every race, I’m lucky to come across families that cheer me on as I ride past their homes. One day, as I was riding at 40 kph, I heard a little girl call out, “Mummy, there’s a girl among the boys. She goes fast!” The sound of her voice radiated towards me, and at that moment I knew I had made a difference. I knew she was realizing that she, too, can go as fast as the boys.
These days, every time a little girl approaches me or looks at me with stars in her eyes, if I’m not competing I try to take time to tell her about my path and passions. I am a role model for these young women, and it’s even better than winning a medal (don’t forget I’m an amateur cyclist).
Thank you, Daddy!
I owe thanks to my dad for giving me the chance to experience these sports with boys, and to have given me opportunities to stumble and fail. This freedom, in part, allowed me to develop physical literacy.
Good news for female elite cyclists
The Tour de France is just around the corner, and good news comes with it (at last!) with the announcement of a new race for female elite cyclicsts. “La course by the Tour de France” will take place on July 27 along Les Champs-Elysées, and it will finally be the girls’ turn to take their place on the stage.
Who knows? Maybe the little girl in this story might herself be part of that elite one day.
Picture of Linda Chouinard, 2013 Cyclo-Orford
Can you spot Emilie in this peloton?